Grotius and Aristotle: The Justice of Taking Too Little

History of Political Thought 36 (1):84-112 (2016)

Authors
Andrew Blom
Central Michigan University
Abstract
The theory of justice that Hugo Grotius developed in De Jure Belli ac Pacis (The Law of War and Peace, 1625) set itself against a certain reading of Aristotle, according to which justice is conceived of as a mean between taking too much and taking too little. I argue that we can best understand the implications of Grotius' mature conception by considering the ends to which he had deployed this Aristotelian notion in his earlier work. Grotius came to perceive that his earlier understanding of justice too easily ruled out the sorts of humanitarian concerns that could have a moderating effect.
Keywords Aristotle  De Jure Belli ac Pacis  De Jure Praedae Commentarius  Hugo Grotius  rights (subjective)  perfect and imperfect rights  commutative and distributive justice  doctrine of the mean  expletive and attributive justice  injustice
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